‘The Trouble with Reality’: The Common Book Receives Mixed Views from Communication and Media Students

By Olivia Paez, Contributing Writer

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Director for the School of Communication and Media Dr. Keith Strudler and author of “The Trouble with Reality” Brooke Gladstone, have a discussion about the book and media in Montclair State’s new School of Communication and Media building.
Chanila German | The Montclarion Photo credit: Chanila German

Students at Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media have mixed feelings about a recently implemented common book called “The Trouble with Reality” by Brooke Gladstone.

Dr. Michael Koch implemented the common book, “The Trouble with Reality” into his Introduction to Communication and Media Arts class. Students in his class read the book and discussed their opinions about the piece and its correlation to the material they were studying for the semester.

In order to gauge how they reacted to the book, a few students from Koch’s class offered their opinions about the essay and its connection to their communication classes.

“I thought the book was too political,” said freshman Jesse-Marie Sanzari. “It’s hard for me to read very political literature, and that’s what I found this book to be. It generated a lot of discussion, and that’s always good to hear everyone’s different opinions in a class of such a big number of people.”

Like Sanzari, many students found the book to be too political in its discussion about leaders skewing reality through lies and misdirection to win over their supporters. Other students found the book to be interesting when discussing the role that the media plays in society and its ability to change our lives.

The main focus of this controversial piece discusses the strategies President Donald Trump used to win the 2016 presidential election. It analyzes how he won over his supporters by blatantly lying to the public and media, thus empowering himself and his campaign. Gladstone also highlights the ways Trump has created his own form of reality that discredits and targets the media for scrutiny.

“I think the fact of the matter is that politics and communications are inseparable,” Koch said. “I know, when I was younger, I may have had moments of feeling a little like, ‘I don’t want to have to think about this stuff. Can we have a break from the politics?’ [But] I don’t think we can.”

Gloria Vega, a junior public relations major another, had similar opinions to Sanzari about how political Gladstone’s book is and how it was used in the class.

“I definitely found myself losing interest,” Vega said. “So I find myself in the middle — I agreed on some points and I disagreed on other points.”

Gladstone’s book was full of different points and opinions about the reality of the political climate today. Tiffany Baskerville, a junior journalism and political science major, thought the book had two very different ideologies throughout the pages.

“It gave the viewers a different perspective from what they would normally see,” Baskerville said. “I was kind of surprised, but I understood why they assigned it. They want to give us a different mindset, a different perspective of what we usually think.”

Koch believes that although the book is politically driven, it is hard to do anything without having some influence.

“I believe very much — as a communications professor — that language [and] the way we communicate with each other has a lot to do with the way we see the world,” Koch said. “I don’t think we can really just talk neutrally.”

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